By Chris Zuver, Staff Writer

Artist’s rendering of TechShop in the Centene District – Courtesy of the Business Journals

This spring, TechShop, a community studio that focuses on cutting-edge workshop technology and equipment, is welcoming University of Missouri-St. Louis students and faculty for a second semester. TechShop, which has nine other studio locations across the country, opened its St. Louis branch in July of last year.

The studio itself is in the Cortex Innovation District on the corner of Boyle Avenue and Forest Park Avenue and is over 18,000 square feet in size. Students, teachers, entrepreneurs, entire companies, or just any ordinary person can walk in and sign up for a membership. UMSL’s College of Arts and Sciences has agreed, as of last semester, to pay the way for students to have a chance to experience TechShop and learn about all that it has to offer.

Starting last fall semester, a total of 20 memberships were given to students and faculty who signed up, allowing them to attend the workshop. This spring, there will be 20 memberships given out, followed by another 20 in the summer. Student members are able to learn about and work with a wide variety of technologies including laser cutters, 3-D printers, a machine shop, a woodshop, welding stations, design software, and much more.

“There were plenty of knowledgeable staff members around to ask if I had a question or to bounce an idea off of,” said UMSL graduate student Jordan Sieve, who attended the workshop in the fall semester. “My favorite thing about it is that it’s a place I can go to and have access to an array of equipment that I wouldn’t normally have.”

“The best part about TechShop, to me, is the excitement that the students have about it,” said Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Ron Yasbin, who, along with Vice Provost Christopher Spilling, was crucial in supporting UMSL’s decision to work with TechShop. “I think it opens some possibilities for other ways we can do things,” said Yasbin. “In the future, if there are more companies like TechShop who can integrate with colleges, it could be really helpful.”

UMSL Research Associate Professor Joel Epstein, who also attended in the fall, was positive about his experience. He said, “One of the things that surprised me the most about my time there was how friendly and helpful all the staff was. The staff worked with me to figure out what I needed to do to make it all work.”

“They have some incredible equipment that students and faculty can utilize for courses,” Dean Yasbin also commented. “Faculty are utilizing it for their classes. Students, faculty, and staff, are using it for their own projects, which is an incentive that we can advertise: the fact that we’re offering this to our students.”

“We knew that University membership would be a hit,” said TechShop General Manager Mike Hill, “and UMSL’s memberships are no exception. It’s exciting to see students and faculty working on projects and taking classes to enhance the work they’re already doing on campus. TechShop is thrilled to be the bridge for students between college life and the St. Louis Maker and Entrepreneur community.”

TechShop is open from 9 a.m. until midnight, seven days a week. Additionally, the studio always welcomes walk-ins for tours.